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A finite-life private-information theory of unsecured consumer debt

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  • Chatterjee, Satyajit
  • Corbae, Dean
  • Ríos-Rull, José-Víctor

Abstract

We present a theory of unsecured consumer debt that does not rely on utility costs of default or on enforcement mechanisms that arise in repeated-interaction settings. The theory is based on private information about a person's type and on a person's incentive to signal his type to entities other than creditors. Specifically, debtors signal their low-risk status to insurers by avoiding default in credit markets. The signal is credible because in equilibrium people who repay are more likely to be the low-risk type and so receive better insurance terms. We explore two different mechanisms through which repayment behavior in the credit market can be positively correlated with low-risk status in the insurance market. Our theory is motivated in part by some facts regarding the role of credit scores in consumer credit and auto insurance markets.

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  • Chatterjee, Satyajit & Corbae, Dean & Ríos-Rull, José-Víctor, 2008. "A finite-life private-information theory of unsecured consumer debt," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 142(1), pages 149-177, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jetheo:v:142:y:2008:i:1:p:149-177
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    10. Jonathan Eaton & Mark Gersovitz, 1981. "Debt with Potential Repudiation: Theoretical and Empirical Analysis," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 48(2), pages 289-309.
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    Cited by:

    1. Toan Phan, 2016. "Information, Insurance and the Sustainability of Sovereign Debt," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 22, pages 93-108, October.
    2. Juan Sanchez & Jose Mustre-del-Rio & Kartik Athreya, 2016. "The Persistence of Financial Distress," 2016 Meeting Papers 1424, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    3. Juan M. Sanchez, 2009. "The role of information in the rise in consumer bankruptcies," Working Paper 09-04, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.
    4. Felicia Ionescu, 2011. "The Interplay Between Different Types of Unsecured Credit and Amplification of Consumer Default," 2011 Meeting Papers 912, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    5. Daniel, Sanches, 2011. "A dynamic model of unsecured credit," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 146(5), pages 1941-1964, September.
    6. Athreya, Kartik & Tam, Xuan S. & Young, Eric R., 2009. "Unsecured credit markets are not insurance markets," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(1), pages 83-103, January.
    7. Ionescu, Felicia & Ionescu, Marius, 2014. "The Interplay Between Student Loans and Credit Card Debt: Implications for Default in the Great Recession," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2014-14, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    8. Igor Livshits & James C. Mac Gee & Michèle Tertilt, 2016. "The Democratization of Credit and the Rise in Consumer Bankruptcies," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 83(4), pages 1673-1710.
    9. Dean Corbae' & Tzu-Ying Chen, 2010. "Can Credit Market Signalling Improve Labor Market Outcomes?," 2010 Meeting Papers 685, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    10. Andrew Glover & Dean Corbae, 2015. "A Simple Dynamic Theory of Credit Scores Under Adverse Selection," 2015 Meeting Papers 1265, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    11. Tamon Asonuma, 2016. "Serial Sovereign Defaults and Debt Restructurings," IMF Working Papers 16/66, International Monetary Fund.
    12. Kocherlakota, Narayana & Wright, Randall, 2008. "Introduction to monetary and macro economics," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 142(1), pages 1-4, September.
    13. Felicia Ionescu & Marius Ionescu, 2012. "The Interplay Between Student Loans and Credit Cards: Implications for Default," Working Papers 2012-014, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
    14. Sharma, Priyanka, 2017. "Is more information always better? A case in credit markets," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 134(C), pages 269-283.
    15. Daphne Chen & Jake Zhao, 2017. "The Impact of Personal Bankruptcy on Labor Supply Decisions," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 26, pages 40-61, October.
    16. Andrew Glover & Dean Corbae, 2017. "The Costs and Benefits of Employer Credit Checks," 2017 Meeting Papers 447, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    17. Igor Livshits, 2015. "Recent Developments In Consumer Credit And Default Literature," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 29(4), pages 594-613, September.
    18. Kyle F. Herkenhoff, 2012. "Informal unemployment insurance and labor market dynamics," Working Papers 2012-057, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
    19. Chen, Daphne & Corbae, Dean, 2011. "On the welfare implications of restricting bankruptcy information," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 4-13, March.

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